Victim or Vessel?

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.

My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.

When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.

The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.

Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.

It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.

Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.

I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.

I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)

Special friends we made at the Embassy.  Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

Special friends we made at the Embassy. Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.

When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the "Multi-Purpose" room, and lived up to it's name!!

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the “Multi-Purpose” room, and lived up to it’s name!!

IMG_0757

As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.

Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.

In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.

“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)

I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.

REFLECTION:

In what direction is God tipping you?

How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?

What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?

Thank you for journeying with me,

Kinita

Lean On Me

2013-07-13 20.47.49

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”.

 

I just love that song called “Lean On Me”. The original version is by Bill Withers back in the 60’s. There have been several artists that have used their style to re-make the song. When it comes on the radio, it is not uncommon for me to turn up the volume and sing-out-loud to my hearts delight. Sometimes to the embarrassment of my children.

 

“Lean on me…”, have you ever needed someone to lean on? I don’t mean in the physical sense because you were going to fall over. I mean, when you are going through some really rough stuff, or just doing life and need a little extra support, you look for someone to lean on because you just don’t want to go it alone. Teenagers today might use “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) to describe that kind of person. However, for some of us that are just a tad-bit-older, our journey of life has changed who those people might be. Maybe you have made that promise to someone but didn’t follow through with it when they needed you the most?

 

“…when you’re not strong”. Ever felt that way? I have, too many times to recount. Maybe you are there now. Not feeling strong like you usually are, maybe even feeling like you are loosing your footing in the situation you find yourself in. Maybe weak in the physical sense and you need to ask for help or feeling depleted emotionally from the many challenges in your journey. Do you ask to lean on someone during this time or do you choose to go it alone? What do you do when you aren’t feeling strong? Who or what do you lean on? Let me assure you, it is not a weakness to lose strength. It is an opportunity for us to see Jesus more clearly. “The friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 17:17).

 

“…I’ll be your friend”. Sounds like a promise to me. Sadly, so many of us have had that kind of promise broken WAY too many times. All too often in my journey, “I’ll be your friend” has been followed up by “if and when” statements. In those situations, when I needed to lean on that person, they would fall over because they weren’t able to “handle” what I shared with them.

 

As I write this piece, I am sitting in the living room of some dear friends that have walked with us for the past twenty years. They have prayed for us, listened to us, never judged or criticized us. They have journeyed with us through thick and thin. They are truth-tellers and Jesus-lovers that have learned from their own experiences and strengthened us in our time of weakness.

When we don’t feel strong, we need our friends to stand by us. We were created for relationships. In my weakness, I need someone stronger. I need them to stand by me. Have you been that friend? Have you needed someone to keep that promise on your journey?

 

“…I’ll help you carry on”. That friend helps us get through the day. Get through the trial. They stay with us to the end. You go from surviving to thriving. Or maybe you just stay in survival mode and don’t end up crashing and burning. In my journey, through the pain and rejection I have experienced over the years, Jesus truly has been that friend that has helped me carry on. In those times where I wanted to quit and walk away, He would show up and lift me up over the next hurdle. Over the next challenge. He is my helper. He is my refuge and my strength (Psalm 46).

 

Well, whatever your situation and experience has been when you have chosen to acknowledge your weakness and then lean into someone, there is One who will NEVER fall over when you lean into Him.

His name is JESUS!!!

Firmly planted in His Father’s Hand and Will. Immovable, unshakeable, firm and in Truth.

Pursuing us and drawing us to Himself.

He wants us to lean on Him, He will not disappoint.

You might feel disappointed at times but I wonder if it is because He isn’t answering your prayer the way you want. Have hope, because He ALWAYS wants better for you.

“When we are weak, He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

He wants us to keep coming to Him. To keep leaning on Him.

“Lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight”. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

Maybe you are a follower of Christ and are feeling weak. I encourage you to find an older woman or man (depending on your gender) to walk with you in a mentoring relationship. Pray for God to lead you to someone who He has been growing and strengthening. Someone that you could lean on and draw from, because they are leaning on Jesus and drawing from Him.

 

Maybe you know someone who needs a friend like that. I encourage you take that next step and reach out to them.

 

God has created us to be in relationship. First with Him and then with each other. Whatever side of that relationship you are on, my prayer for you is that you would discover Jesus on your journey and that His love for you is everlasting and He will NEVER break His promises to you.

What is your friendship style and how is God using you to impact someone’s story?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita